It’s broad daylight at one of Europe’s busiest ports and a huge metal container packed full of cigarettes is loaded on to a ship destined for the other side of the world. In full view of the authorities it all looks perfectly legitimate but this is the modern smuggler at work – and cigarettes are now some of the most lucrative booty around.
It’s estimated that 600 billion cigarettes, or 11 per cent of the world’s total consumption, are smuggled annually and many pressure groups are concerned at the way tobacco companies are dealing with this illegal trade though the companies themselves are adamant that they are doing all they can to fight the smugglers.
We don’t know if the tobacco companies are involved or not, however, it doesn’t matter. When you overtax a legal product to curb the behavior of mankind globally, you open up the black market. People who want to smoke will find the cheapest way to do so and they don’t care about the tax man.